19 May 2011

Gideon Levy on the requirements for Middle East Peace

Columnist Gideon Levy has an opinion piece in today’s edition of Ha’aretz on the essential requirements for reconciliation and peace with the Palestinians, an essential precondition for which is understanding the perspective of the Palestinians.

He begins:

Look what a few hundred demonstrators can do in a day: 1948 is on the agenda. The breach of the fence in the Golan Heights was enough to breach a far older and more complex fence, bringing 1948 to center stage in the political discussion.  

We're still screwing things up and babbling ourselves to death about 1967 - will or won't Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu utter the words "1967 borders," as if it makes a difference what he says.

Later in the piece:

Anyone who didn't want 1967 is now getting 1947. Anyone who didn't want to evacuate the settlement of Ariel will now be forced to discuss Carmiel. Anyone who didn't want a historic compromise is now getting the 1948 portfolio on his doorstep. The right is rejoicing, it's not clear about what, the left has long been dead and the caravan is galloping forward, leaving Israel in a situation that is deteriorating by the day.

1948 received a donkey's burial in Israel; there has never been a genuine public discussion of it here, but its spirit never died for a moment in Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora. Its survivors, the refugees and their grandchildren carry its memory and their pain to this day, just as the Jews carry their own memories and pain. That should have been acknowledged long ago. In that sense we can actually appreciate the behavior of the demonstrators from Syria: They reminded Israelis of forgotten events.

Levy concludes:

The time has come to remove the abscess and air out the wound. We're not talking about an impossible turning back of the wheel of history, about the return of millions and the end of the State of Israel, as the right is trying to scare us into believing. We're talking about understanding the other side and granting some of its desires - accepting moral responsibility for 1948, a solution to the refugee problem, and of course, that very minimum, the 1967 borders. Anyone who still doesn't understand that is invited to waste more time and see how this benefits us and them.

It is hard to imagine a hard-hitting piece like this receiving an airing in any mainstream newspaper in Australia. It is worth reading in full; access it here.

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